Alumni in Action: Elizabeth Wydra ’98

Elizabeth Wydra ’98.

Photos by Sidney Smith ’25

Alumni in Action

Students and faculty from across the 7Cs, gathered for Claremont McKenna College’s 15th Annual Women and Leadership Workshop featuring CMC alumna Elizabeth Wydra ’98 as the keynote speaker.

Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC) in Washington, D.C., led the Feb. 23 discussion, which was focused on “Women’s Leadership, Equal Citizenship, and Reproductive Justice.”

Kirsti Zitar ’97 P’26, assistant director of CMC’s Mgrublian Center for Human Rights, introduced the program, and provided background on the Women and Leadership Alliance (WLA) (the primary sponsor of the workshop), which has its origins as a student-led initiative in 2010 that sought “more female leadership mentors on this campus and for programs that would also highlight women leaders across the industries.”

Now a collaborative endeavor jointly led by the College’s Kravis Leadership Institute, Berger Institute for Individual and Social Development, and the Mgrublian Center, the goals of the WLA align with the College’s mission to prepare CMC students for thoughtful and productive lives and responsible leadership in business, government, and the professions. Zitar said that the WLA draws attention to “issues faced by women in leadership” and “connects students with successful women leaders across disciplines.”

Claremont McKenna College's 15th Annual Women and Leadership Workshop.Claremont McKenna College's 15th Annual Women and Leadership Workshop.

Wydra, who serves on the Mgrublian Center’s advisory board, reflected on how her time at CMC as a PPE major helped launch her eventual career as a Supreme Court litigator and a prominent legal expert, who is frequently called upon by major media outlets to analyze SCOTUS rulings, as well as other high-level court cases.

Describing Professor Emeritus John Roth as her “North Star, when I think about what I want to do with my life, and want to be as a human being,” Wydra said that “so much of my path in life started here at Claremont McKenna. I was truly grateful to CMC for giving me the skills and inspiration and community that I needed to start down that path of getting to do what I love to do.”

Wydra shared her perspective on how reproductive autonomy is essential to equal citizenship, calling upon her expertise and experiences as a woman leader of a constitutional law organization.

During the Q&A portion of the program, a CMC junior majoring in PPE on the pre-law track asked Wydra to share her strategies for having difficult conversations that can feel personal, such as those around reproductive rights.

“When I have these discussions on a lot of issues, I can be sympathetic to the person’s perspective,” Wydra said. “We all have the duty to educate ourselves, particularly about blind spots we might have. It is helpful to try to be open when people point out a blind spot you might have and think about it.”

The event was organized by faculty and staff from the Berger Institute for Individual and Social Development, the Kravis Leadership Institute, and the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights, with the support of Susan and Thomas Handley ’77.

Anne Bergman


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